This year was only the second time in several decades we haven't thrown a party for the Academy Awards, and it only took a few minutes of red carpet coverage to remind me why we usually have people over: this shit is nigh intolerable unless you're surrounded by a bunch of drunks making fun of it.
It wasn't a big night for any movie in particular, with the major awards spread pretty evenly across the various nominees. Maybe the biggest story was Argo's Best Picture win and the attendant drama surrounding Ben Affleck's non-nom for Best Director, which went in a fairly surprising development to Ang Lee.
How did host Seth MacFarlane do? Were there any wardrobe malfunctions? Would anybody mispronounce Les Misérables? Read on, true believers.
Because I know it's what you're most concerned with, I went 19 for 24. In my defense, I said Jones vs. Waltz was a toss-up for Best Supporting Actor. And nobody saw Ang Lee coming, which sounds dirty but isn't.
The main topic of conversation at the outset was host Seth MacFarlane, and there were plenty of folks who weren't enamored of the Ted auteur's performance. Am I the only one who wanted more Sock Puppet Theater? Was MacFarlane worse than, say, Letterman? I didn't think so. I don't remember the job Anne Hathaway and James Franco did all that well, but I know they weren't quite as, what's the word, doofus-y?
I mean, coed jokes? Chastain's character in Zero Dark Thirty was a woman who "couldn't let something go?" I guess looking at it in that respect, his turn at hosting could be viewed as a true throwback to an era when dames knew how to take a joke. Lighten up, toots.
And the Sound of Music gag was fucking hilarious.
Among the worst parts, in my opinion, were the absolutely horrible introductory bits. Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy? The Avengers cast (minus the female one)? At least Channing Tatum talking about getting his genitals waxed got us all thinking about Channing Tatum's genitals.
And I love Melissa McCarthy, but that was some Vampira hair.
Speaking of that, there was a lot of shitty folliculation. De Niro looked like he'd given his the dinglehopper treatment, while Amanda Seyfried should've rolled the limo windows up. And I don't use the expression all that much -- or actually ever -- but Kristen Stewart: that hair, that limp, those arm bruises. She's the reason the phrase "hot mess" was invented.
For me, and I'm admittedly biased, the highlights included the 50th anniversary tribute to James Bond, topped off by a blistering performance by Shirley Bassey, who essentially offered her version of "You got served" to Adele.
And Christopher Plummer. Because who doesn't like Christopher Plummer?
Tarantino's acceptance speech was also ... surprisingly cool. Maybe "surprisingly" is the wrong word, but he was nice and non-assholish and I picked him to win the award so it's all good.
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As for the lowlights, I've already mentioned MacFarlane's bits. Again, I didn't have a huge problem with things like his Sally Field sketch, but it seems like a lot of criticism was coming from people unaware that the guy created Family Guy, which made its rep on some of the most tasteless, anti-woman humor around. That doesn't excuse it, but maybe the fact I wasn't surprised kept me from getting too worked up.
And let's try to keep in mind the ordeal those poor celebrities go through. You and I, after all, are free to hit pause, go to the bathroom, make a drink (or six, *cough*) and lie on our couch in nothing more than underpants and a smile. Those guys have to wear real clothes and feign interest over the 3+ hours until their award is announced (I saw you, Denzel Washington).
But that doesn't excuse you from learning how to pronounce the name of the movie you're introducing the clip for, John Travolta. We endured your remake of The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, you could've flipped open a dictionary to sound out "Misérables."
Argo was the feel-good winner, allowing Ben Affleck to get up on stage and ramble about the brilliance of the Carter Administration. Daniel Day-Lewis won one of the least surprising Best Actor contest of all time, preceded by Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress. All in all, a pretty dull ceremony. In the end, I think MacFarlane did a perfectly acceptable job, but I imagine the backlash will be significant, and I'd be surprised if they invited him back.